Several recent studies have documented the rising cases of mental health problems during the current global health crisis, indicating that these psychological problems could be the next pandemic of sorts.
After our physical health was put at risk, the economy suffered massive losses. Following that, a third wave of catastrophic occurrences seem to be next. Now, the mental health of millions could suffer, as it happened after the Great Depression, 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.
Disastrous events trigger traumatic responses in both parents and children alike, who face the repercussions long after the event unfolds. This is because post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety are exacerbated by panic, unemployment, losing loved ones and living in isolation. Cognitive disorders and dementia specialist Dr Konstantinos Petsanis at La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland observed warning signs amongst his patients.
“We had so much stress before World War II that too many people got rheumatoid cardiopathies correlated with unemployment. Actually, it wasn’t just correlation, causation was established. We know that stress kills, first of all because it provokes two things, vaso-spasm in the vascular system and immunosuppression, the suppression of the immune system,” Dr Petsanis explained.
Back in 2013, researchers at the Center on Trauma and Children, University of Kentucky, examined the psychosocial reactions of parents and children to pandemics. Based on the responses of the parents on behalf of their children, 30 percent of isolated children showed signs of PTSD, while 25 percent of the parents self-reported PTSD symptoms themselves.
“Because pandemic disasters are unique and do not include congregate sites for prolonged support and recovery, they require specific response strategies to ensure the behavioral health needs of children and families. Pandemic planning must address these needs and disease-containment measures,” concluded the study published by the journal Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness in 2013.
Outlining one such response, an advisory document put together by the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto, Canada, elaborates how they believe children should adapt to the new normal when school reopens. The insights that came from specialists in pediatrics, child psychiatry and infectious diseases was released on June 17.
“We have to accept that COVID-19 will stay with us for a long time. We must move on with certain activities in our lives, such as schooling, while keeping in mind that there are a lot of ways to mitigate risk,” Dr. Ronald Cohn, President and CEO of SickKids said.